Days of Being Wild (阿飞正传) is a 1990’s film by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, director of Chungking Express, previously blogged about on these pages. It tells the story of Hong Kong playboy York (Leslie Cheung), two of his ladies (Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau) and a sympathetic policeman (Andy Lau). It contains a wealth of Hong Kong pop and acting talent, and was one of the first art-house movies on the Hong Kong scene.
It some ways it’s a fairly inaccessible piece; unlike Chungking Express, the story meanders without much conclusion. On the other hand the visuals are sumptuous- the movie marks the first collaboration with cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who Wong went on to make 8 movies with. The two main themes of the movie are rejection and existentialism. The former is faced by all of the main characters at one point or another during the tale, and the latter is evident in how the characters see their lives and face the everyday challenges that they do- from the policeman who realises he is poor, and declares that not everyone can be rich, to the playboy who lives a day to day hedonistic lifestyle, apparently caused by the knowledge that he was fostered by his mother. The two women have very different personalities, and deal with their break-ups with York in different ways- again demonstrating the different ways of coping with the realities of everyday life. Set in the 1960s, it feels a lot older than its 1990 release date. The movie contains a wealth of metaphors and comparisons – there is much in the details of this 90 minute story, despite the fact that many will walk away from it unsatisfied. The more you think about it the more you realise you’d need to watch it again and again to get a thorough reading of all that is going on- especially the 2 minute sequence at the very end that contains an entirely new character. So, as a film I preferred Chungking, but I can see why this started it all for Wong Kar-Wai, and why it was a breath of fresh air to the Hong Kong film industry. And I’ll probably watch it again.
Next up are the remaining two films of the informal trilogy, In The Mood for Love and 2046.